Why Did Rory Dream of Harvard, not Yale?

In ‘A Tale of Poes and Fire‘, Rory begins one of her classic pro-con lists about going to Harvard vs Princeton vs Yale, though we know Princeton is pretty much out of the running. After the meeting at Yale, I think Lorelai and Rory both know that they need to re-evaluate their assumption that Harvard is the school for Rory.


I’m not really sure why Harvard was “the” school to begin with. Why that dream, that school? Was it just thought “the best” by them? Or was it something else? Did Lorelai in some way sway Rory away from thinking about Yale early on, because her father went there? Wouldn’t it have been nicer to dream of Yale, since it’s so close to home?

Whatever the reason, Lorelai says that if Harvard was meant to be, the list would reflect it. Rory shouldn’t go to Harvard just because she’s always wanted to or because it’s what is expected of her – she should go because it’s right. Things to consider would be location, the program Rory wants, the teachers, and future job prospects. In the end, Yale comes out a winner.

Watch this episode of Gilmore Girls on TheWB.com here.

Image: TheWB.com

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    • Josh

      I think it’s pretty clear.

      Rory says in the finale of Season 3 that the person she wanted to be most like was Lorelai. And Lorelai says in Season 1 that she started dressing Rory in Harvard “ever since she could crawl” and that she bought Rory a sweatshirt when she was four. I don’t care how brilliant Rory supposedly is, there is no way she could have had a rational dream about Harvard that early.

      In that same episode (“the Deer Hunter”), Lorelai asks Rory if it’s really Rory’s dream, not just because Lorelai wanted it, and of course Rory says it’s hers. But given all the above, and how much Rory says she wants to be like her mother, and how much she’s constantly trying to be a good girl, it’s not hard to believe it really is Lorelai’s dream.

      And let’s face it, that’s to get back at Richard. Harvard v. Yale is an old rivalry, and that’s probably why she chose it.

      Even during the freak-out at Thanksgiving where she accuses her daughter of being too weak to avoid manipulation from Richard and Emily, Lorelai is such a child that she can’t admit that if Rory is susceptible to manipulation by anyone, it’s Lorelai. Is it really a stretch to imagine Lorelai in the way she is making jokes and songs out of teaching Rory to say Harvard when she’s little? She probably tells herself she’s just being funny and uses that as an excuse, but we know it’s more driven than that.

      Columbia is the journalism school in the Ivy League, not Harvard, and certainly not Yale (though both schools are adding more courses). It makes no sense that Rory would want to go to either place given her career ambitions (but given how that storyline fell apart, let’s not go there).

    • http://receptpizza.ru Mjatlev

      Да я смотрю, ты тут уже местный…

    • Kate D

      It is definitely Lorelai’s dream originally, and I think Lorelai realizes that since she can’t do it, she’ll make sure her kid can. Even if Lorelai manipulated Rory into wanting to go there, Rory did in the end make up her mind on her own. The fact that Lorelai put a Harvard shirt on a 4-year-old Rory sort of only proves Lorelai’s regret, seeing as at that point, Lorelai was 20-21 and would have still been in college if she hadn’t gotten pregnant. Personally, when I graduated from high school, my heart was set on RPI and go there I did. I think if my dream had been shattered, I’d probably have reacted very similarly.

      You could tell when Lorelai and Rory visited Yale, after Lorelai called off her wedding, that Lorelai herself regretted not being able to attend (as she stared at the Valedictorian’s portrait in that hallway).

      Moreover, even though, as the above user pointed out, Rory wanted to be like her Mom, they were still very different people.

      I know Rory was afraid that if she applied to anything but Harvard, that her mother would be disappointed. I think that was a misjudgment on Rory’s part, maybe Lorelai could have been more firm on wanting Rory to do anything she dreamed of, but in the end all the Harvard talk didn’t get her to Harvard, right? This also proves that Rory will do what she needs to do, even if she has to do it behind her mothers back.

      But lets all admit that she ended up at Yale for the sake of the show :)

    • Josh

      @ Kate

      I don’t think we have any evidence that Lorelai specifically wanted to go to Harvard. My point above was that she wanted Rory to go to Harvard to get back at Richard, to the point of picking battles with Richard more than once (Season 2 and 3), and worst of all, accusing Rory of plotting against her with her parents in front of other people.

      I don’t think you’d go that far :)

      The only evidence we have of Lorelai’s ambitions, according to Richard, is that she once ran into her office and said she was going to Yale, just like him, when she took his diploma and put it in her room. IMHO, it’s one of the most moving scenes in the show. During the “Road Trip to Harvard”, all we can get from that, I think, is that Lorelai saw students who would have been graduating at the time she did. She made another reference that season that she was expected to go to Vassar, but not Harvard.

      Maybe she did want to go there, and we’re supposed to infer that, but it’s not particularly clear. What is clear is that Harvard upsets the Gilmores, from Trix to Richard, at least.

      And let’s give it up for Lauren Graham, who got her Ivy League degree from Columbia through Barnard!

    • Josh

      Okay that should’ve been Lorelai ran into Richard’s office… clearly I had Lorelai taking over Richard’s office as well as his degree!

    • Nil-Wren

      I don’t really know. Yet she lost nothing: http://www.youtube.com/yalecampus#p/u/24/-EEuetISaxc